Growing up in the 80’s, I had to deal with the struggle of making of friends. It’s hard to survive in school, with no support to deal with the teen angst that goes on. I realize that when Revenge of the Nerds came out I was still in elementary school, and I’m not sure when I first saw this film, but it doesn’t matter. Everyone watching this movie can relate to it. Looking back during my freshman year in college, it reminds me that kids can still be pressured to fit in to survive. No matter what people tell you there are still the basic type of classes that determine who you are: the jocks, the cheerleaders, the popular kids (which are the combined forces of the jocks and the cheerleaders), the band nerds, and then there are the NERDS. Now nerds don’t have to be just the intellectuals, it can be anybody outside the basic type of the social class. In Revenge of the Nerds, the so called nerds at Adams University consist of a Japanese foreign exchange student, a child prodigy, a very flamboyant individual, an awkwardly shy person, a scruffy looking nose-picking gentlemen, and our two main nerd heroes, Lewis Skolnick and Gilbert Lowe. They symbolize the stereotypical image of what the ultimate nerd looks like. It is the United Nations of Nerdom.
Their attempt to get into the Phi Alpha Betas is met with ridicule and rejection because of who they are. Can anybody relate to this? I can, my freshman year I tried to apply for membership to the Phi Delta Thetas at my college, but was turned down. I never got any explanation as to why, but I felt rejected and felt like I did something wrong. They were the cool kids on the block and getting into their fraternity would mean making new friends and opening doors to many possibilities in the future. But people tell me that Greek life is not for everybody. That’s true, but when you are starting college, fitting in is the difference between struggling to survive for the next four years and feeling like you belong to something. It is also true that you control your life and take the initiative of making yourself not a victim, but a victor.
Getting back to the movie, Lewis, Gilbert and the rest of the nerds try to find new residence since their freshman dorm is taken over by the Phi Alpha Betas after they accidentally burned down their own frat house. One by one the nerds get turned down by every frat house and residence until they find the only fraternity that is willing to take them in, Lambda Lambda Lambda. A black fraternity who at first tries to refuse a bunch of nerds into their chapter, but with the Fraternal by Laws giving them a thirty day probationary trial period, the chapter president, U.N. Jefferson, reluctantly welcomes them. Thinking that their worries are over, the nerds breathe a sigh of relief, but that is short lived. Stan Gable, the president of Phi Alpha Beta, Ogre, and the rest of the evil Alpha Betas stir up more chaos and problems for the new members of the Tri-Lambdas. Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards play their roles perfectly. Carradine who plays Lewis takes his character and immortalizes his laugh and behavior that is widely recognized as the Uber Nerd of all time. Edwards who plays Gilbert takes his character with a softer approach that always walks on the side of caution in most of Lewis’ action (i.e panty-raids, putting hot-itching powder in the Alpha Beta’s jocks, and Lewis getting his nerd-on with the head cheerleader, Betty Childs, who happens to be Stan’s girlfriend (and doing a better job than him). Their physical appearance and awkwardness towards others, especially to the opposite sex gives us a perfect scenario to the social dilemmas that every teenager has to overcome when adapting to a new environment.
The term “nerds”, during the 1980’s, has been labeled as something we didn’t want to be. People would laugh at them, tease them, and give them a hard time because being different was not cool back in the day. If you can picture a nerd, you see pocket protectors, high-water pants, neatly combed hair and glasses so thick that it makes your eyes bug out. Science and math were the popular studies for a nerd, and not an ounce of athletic ability. But what they lack, they make up for in ingenuity and originality, plus a great imagination. In the movie, the Tri Lambdas enter Greek Week to gain the controlling seat of the Greek Council, where Stan is president. If the Tri Lambda’s win, Stan’s position is given to whoever wins Greek Week and the Tri Lambdas want Stan and the Phi Alpha Betas to be dethroned. The Tri-Lambdas struggle to compete, but sometimes they get ahead of the Alpha Betas. But the ultimate “revenge” is at the end of the competition where all the Greeks have to perform a variety show as their last entry. With their intellectual savvy and knowledge of electronics, the Tri Lambdas rock the house with their crazy electronic music and futuristic costumes. In a nutshell, the nerds win Greek Week and final victory over the Alpha Betas. This doesn’t sit well with them. Being bullies like they are, the Alpha Betas totally destroy the Tri Lambda’s house leaving nothing but broken furniture and graffiti all over the wall. Gilbert has had enough and confronts the Alpha Betas at their football rally with the help of the Tri lambdas fraternity black brothers making sure he is not harmed. He delivers one of the best speeches in movie history. His speech reaches out to everybody and tugs at their soul and heartstrings. His message forces us to look inside ourselves and find the Nerd in all of us; that it is okay to be nerd. Everybody rallies around him and chants ‘NERDS! NERDS! NERDS!’ as a rally cry. Even some of the Alpha Betas join in along with their sorority sisters.
It’s a feel-good film with many laughable moments. It also delivers a great message that to be yourself is awesome and never let anyone tell you different. Nowadays being a nerd is the hot topic. Nerds are everywhere raking in the money and buying million dollar houses. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg is a couple of examples of nerds making it big and more come out of the woodwork everyday. The film Revenge of the Nerds gave birth to a couple more sequels that didn’t do too well, but that’s okay, the original will forever be a classic that people can revisit time and again for a long time. NERDS RULE!!!!!!!!!